First things first: If you’ve been reading Bike-urious for a while, you’ll know that this is my first vehicle review (and also the most I’ve used the word “first” in a sentence). I apologize in advance – this probably won’t be what you expect from a review, as I don’t have a big budget or fancy equipment. I just have talented friends I can call on like Gary Ng and Patrick Early, both of whom took photos for this and are greatly appreciated. With that out of the way, I hope you enjoy!
Before I say anything else, let me start with this: This is the most fun I’ve had in anything with a steering wheel. I’ll get into details later.
Your first comment might be that this isn’t actually a motorcycle. Before I first
hopped in contorted my body into the tiny cabin, I would have agreed with you. But underneath the steering wheel there’s a sticker that says the NHTSA considers this a motorcycle, and we always listen to the government, right? With that said, at least in the state of California, you don’t need a motorcycle license to enjoy this Morgan. Your state may have a different take on the matter.
Statistics are boring and you can look them up anywhere, so I’m not going to waste your time with them in this review. Instead, let me tell you what it’s like to be behind the wheel.
Again, getting inside the car itself is a chore (and it might even be easier to burn yourself on the side pipe here than on the first generation Dodge Viper). Somehow twisting your legs into the footwell is another exercise in futility if you’re tall, inflexible, or heaven help you, both. Once you’re in, though, it’s not half bad. Turn the key into the ignition position, flip open the cover of the starter button (which makes you feel like you’re in a jet fighter), and fire away. The entire vehicle starts gently rumbling from the front thanks to the S&S V-Twin engine. It’s quieter than I expected, but it’s a nice sound – and it’s not like there’s much sound insulation to get in the way.
So here’s the thing. I’m still early in my ‘reviewing’ career. I don’t have extensive experience with many exotic cars. There’s an Aston Martin DB9 here, a Ferrari 430 Spider there, but nothing much crazier than that. But nothing would prepare me for the amount of attention the Morgan 3 Wheeler attracts. Let me continue my tangent for a moment – I don’t crave attention on the road. Frankly, I’m happiest when I’m anonymous, which is why I’m normally riding around in this gear:
Then I finally know what it’s like to be famous – only certain personality types need apply! And you know what? Even I loved the constant stares and questions. The nice thing is, you actually get a pleasant kind of attention. People don’t sneer at you with the assumption that you’re a rich guy who just buys a Ferrari or a Lambo because that’s what rich guys do. No – you’re a connoisseur……and connoisseurs drive 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4’s and Morgans. You can’t even say the word without half-attempting a British accent and trying to sound classy. (Also, now I’m wondering if it should be a goal to include a Nicolas Cage reference in every review.)
But don’t get the idea that this is just for nerdy Brits named Roger. This car has attitude, from the jet-fighter starter button to the Royal Air Force inspired livery to the skull/propeller motif between the cylinders of the 2.0 liter engine.
I was constantly questioned whenever I stopped.
“What year is that?”
“Did you bring that from England?”
“What the hell is a Morgan?”
“What a cool car! Weird, but cool.”
Plus, a lot of “How much does that thing cost?” I guess this is the only stat I’ll share with you, base MSRP is about $55,000.
Whether or not you’ll thrive on the attention is one thing, but it’s impossible to deny that being in the Morgan 3 Wheeler makes everything special. Open air motoring is always a wonderful experience in my mind, and the transmission is a joy to use (turns out it utilizes the tranny from a Mazda Miata). The engine is lively, if a little breathless in the upper rev range, and all the tactile surfaces are nice to the touch. The whole thing just feels right. I adored the experience, and kept trying to justify owning one to myself while I was putting around town. Billie Jo of Morgan West told me a story about an older couple that traded their pair of Mini Cooper S models for a Morgan 3 Wheeler. After a few months they came back to her saying that they felt like they were living life all over again, and that people were constantly assuming they were celebrities. I don’t doubt that for one moment.
You’ve probably determined that I really like this thing, but there are some foibles. The turn signals are a pain in the ass to use, and they’re on the wrong side of the steering column (you won’t care). The horn is a switch on the dash, so it’s not what I would call ‘easy to use’ in the case of an emergency (you won’t care). There’s some pretty decent buffeting from the windscreen at above “in-town” speeds (you might care, but it’s nothing you haven’t felt on a bike before.) Oh, there’s one more thing – the turning radius is shit, but you’ll get used to it.
So, should you get one? Yes. If you can afford to throw down about $60k (by the time you’ve added some extras) on what will probably be your 4th or 5th car, then go for it. But even for us normal people, I think there’s a way to make it happen – split one among you and your friends. I’m 85% serious. Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a place with weather like Southern California, this won’t be a year round vehicle, which can make it difficult to justify spending the dough on something you won’t be able to use as often as you’d like. If you share ownership of this beauty, you’ll reduce your costs but still have the same amount of joy when you take it out for a spin as other owners do. I spent my first 10 minutes out of the car thinking about who I’d call to arrange a similar ownership scheme with, and frankly, I’m stunned no one’s renting these things out to the public.
I only had this car for a short period of time, but there was one experience that I think summed it up very well. We pulled in to get gas and ended up right behind a beautiful original Porsche 356. The owner was initially nowhere to be found, but a few moments later I was greeted by an incredible lady who was the original owner…and it turns out the car has about 550k miles on it!
She is former California lawmaker Sheil Kuehl, who’s running for Los Angeles County Supervisor. Not bad. We had a very pleasant conversation which ended with her saying something along the lines of, “It’s very rare when I lose the competition for coolest car in the area.” When you’re the star of the show next to original owner, half-million mile convertible classics, you’re definitely driving something special.
I’ve never been one for practicality, and you only live once, right? Driving the Morgan doesn’t make much sense from a logical perspective, but it absolutely tugs at your heart in all the right ways. Even as I write this and I reflect on my experience, I find myself wishing I could get back in one – the Morgan 3 Wheeler is simply special.
Many thanks to Gary Ng, Patrick Early, and Dennis and Billie Jo from MorganWest.